“Pandemic transition to Endemic, emerging variants, China surge in infections, vaccination and measures to reduce transmission”

Experts tracking the pandemic agree there is and will continue to be surges and evolving challenges with Covid infections in 2023. NZ is in the midst of a surge now, with a vast majority of infections going unreported and not included in our statistics. The surge may not be providing as bad a situation as previously experienced and having just had my first event with ​Covid over Christmas, I feel blessed I wasn’t very sick. Those with underlying conditions and those who are  unvaccinated, however, are the most at risk – as ​are businesses that rely on them. Why business? Well absenteeism causes intermittent manpower shortages when Covid runs through the workplace, and those with sensitive  export markets are required to test as part of their contracts.  

Do we need to worry about subvariants? Well, the good news is that to date the subvariants are showing characteristics of less impact on serious illness and mortality rates, but worryingly they are more transmissible. Nonetheless, NZ has some worrying mortality rates.

Much of the waves of infections are not primarily driven by emergence of subvariants but rather by behaviour. People are opening up their social networks to gather for celebrations and family time providing a source of transmission driving infection rates that are under-reported.

Other experts are pointing out that anticipated future surges don’t just involve Covid and the 2023 winter will see a triple surge. They are referring to the rise of cases of flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) to add to Covid infections. Many share the concern, worrying that those illnesses may be what overwhelms hospital capacity.

Another wildcard is the situation for China with their easing of “zero covid” policies. The suffering that is occurring is not good news and we are going to see that for many weeks and months ahead. Peter Chin-Hong, MD, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of California says that the increase in cases and variants in China whilst worrying can “throw a wrench“ in the transition from pandemic to endemic. But even if the rising cases in China do result in a new variant, there is so much T-Cell and B cell immunity here that your average person is still not going to get seriously ill, even if the variant looks really scary.

Recent studies find huge value in boosters ​which have reduced the risk of hospitalisations by 84% ​for someone vaccinated.

A vital tool ​in reducing transmission ​is rapid testing methods such as Rapid Immunoassay testing (​take a look at the Ecotest Nasal ​Pentest RAT).  These tests ​play a huge part in ​essential testing before and after travel, as well as prior to visiting with vulnerable individuals (the unvaccinated, the aged and those with underlying health conditions). Many essential businesses also look to continue to protect their business continuity with regular workplace RAT testing and realise the great benefit ​of reducing spread within the workplace.

If you want more information regards the circulating variants of ​Covid, the protection provided already by NZ bivalent vaccinations available, and the benefits of maintaining a protocol of RAT surveillance, let ​us know (you can send us a message here). Coming soon and available pre winter ​is an updated Ecotest Nasal pentest RAT, which is a 3 in 1 test to detect ​Covid 19, Influenza and RSV !